LONDON Dec 21 (Reuters) - Britain’s FTSE 100 index is seen opening down 15-18 points, or 0.3 percent on Friday, according to financial bookmakers, tracking falls in Asia and by U.S. futures as optimism regarding a deal on the U.S. budget ebbed. For more on the factors affecting European stocks, please click on
* U.S. Republican lawmakers have rejected party leader John Boehner’s proposal designed to win concessions from President Barack Obama in the “fiscal cliff” talks, reviving fears of $600 billion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts that could drag the U.S. economy back into recession.
* The UK blue chip index closed down 3.25 points, or 0.05 percent on Thursday at 5,958.34 consolidating around nine-month highs, and pausing within reach of the psychologically key 6,000 points mark, with sentiment dominated by the U.S. fiscal cliff talks.
* Friday’s expiry of December options, due around 1015 GMT, could well galvanise the market into trying the 6,000 level - last seen in July 2011 - given the concentration of bets around that level. Open interest on the Liffe exchange as of Dec. 18 showed some 30,713 call bets at the 6,000 mark - the heaviest concentration of any of the December strikes and suggesting many could be interested in seeing that level breached before expiry in order to cash in.
* INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS - Stakebuilding rumours helped the hotellier higher on Thursday with talk that activist investor Nelson Pelz was in the market for more stock and that again led to revived speculation U.S. giant Marriott could be lining up a mega offer for the firm, according to the Daily Mail market report.
* XSTRATA - The miner is to up zinc ore output at its Lady Loretta project in north-west Queensland, Australia by a further 33 percent to 1.6 million tonnes per annum.
* BAE SYSTEMS - The defence contractor said Oman has agreed a contract for the delivery of 12 Typhoon and 8 Hawk aircraft, starting in 2017, valued at approximately 2.5 billion pounds.
* REGUS, MWB GROUP - The office outsourcer has launched a 61.576 pence per ordinary share cash offer for MWB Business Exchange, part of property firm MWB Group which is currently in administration, valuing the business at 40 million pounds.
*PETROCELTIC - The explorer said Algerian authorities have given their approval to its plan for the development of the Ain Tsila gas-condensate field .
* FAROE PETROLEUM - The explorer said its bank credit facility has been doubled to 1 billion norwegian crowns, or approximately 110 million pounds.
* RENOLD - The engineer said its new CEO Robert Purcell will take up his position on January 21.
* WILLIAM HILL, SPORTINGBET - Britain’s largest bookmaker, expanded into the large Australian gambling market when it and partner GVC Holdings agreed a 485 million pound deal for Sportingbet late on Thursday.
* Britain needs to introduce legislation that could break up banks if standards slipped because current reform proposals fall short of what is needed, the influential Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards has said. [ID: nL5E8NKC2E]
* British consumer confidence fell sharply in December, all but wiping out the previous month’s improvement, as expectations for the wider economy worsened, a survey showed on Friday.
* The final reading for British third-quarter GDP and the current account balance will be released at 0930 GMT, at the same time as the November public sector finance numbers.
* Across the Atlantic, U.S. November personal income and consumption figures will be released at 1330 GMT, together with November’s Chicago Fed index, while the final reading of December’s Reuters/University of Michigan consumer confidence survey is due at 1455 GMT.
BERKELEY MINERAL RESOURCES holds its annual general meeting.
SKYEPHARMA holds an extraordinary general meeting.
MONITISE holds a shareholders meeting.
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